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NC State Immunologist Recipient of NIH Grant to Investigate Novel HIV Research Approach

PCR strip test tubes and micropipette in genetics laboratory

Jonathan Fogle, a veterinary internal medicine specialist and assistant professor of immunology in the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is one of 10 young scientists to receive a grant from the Creative and Novel Ideas in HIV Research program to investigate questions related to long-term survival with HIV infection, and the prevention of HIV transmission.

The Creative and Novel Ideas in HIV Research (CNIHR) program is a joint initiative of the United States National Institutes of Health, the Centers for AIDS Research, and the International AIDS Society to attract national and international early stage investigators to the HIV field and stimulate new innovative research.

Dr. Fogle will use the two-year grant, which totals $300,000, to investigate the role particular subsets of T cells play in HIV infection.

Dr. Jonathan Fogle
Dr. Jonathan Fogle

“My proposal was to investigate particular T cells that are important in fighting the viral infections and how these cells become suppressed by other T cells known as T regulatory cells,” says Fogle. “I’m working with CD8+ T cells. These cells are a major part of the body’s defense against viral infections. The CD8+ cells are particularly critical in helping the body rid itself of a virus in the early stage of an acute infection.

“Using feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) as a model for HIV, the question I hope to answer is how does the HIV virus escape elimination by these CD8+ T cells to continue to infect the body,” continues Fogle. “Why are the CD8+ cells dysfunctional when it comes to the HIV virus?  What is happening on the molecular level when the T regulatory cells suppress the CD8+ T cell responses?  Can we reverse or prevent this dysfunction?”

The competitive two-stage CNIHR scholarship process required Fogle to submit a pre-proposal. He was then invited to prepare a formal proposal for final selection.  As a grantee, the NC State immunologist will attend the July 20-25 International AIDS Society 2014 Conference in Melbourne, Australia where he will make a presentation to a panel of HIV researchers and respond to questions.

The rest of the international conference includes poster sessions, seminars on all aspects of current global HIV research, policy, and public health activity, and the opportunity for scholarship recipients to network with established scientists in the field.

As a scholarship recipient Fogle, who is a member of the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology and NC State’s Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, also will attend the International AIDS Society Conference in 2015 and 2016 to present yearly updates on his research.  Dr. Fogle recognizes Dr. Kate Meurs, the associate dean for research at the College, as instrumental in providing the resources needed to ensure his grant proposal was competitive.

Fogle collaborates with Drs. Kristina Abel and Rick Meeker in the University of North Carolina Center for Aids Research. He directs NC State’s Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core Facility and the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Clinical Immunology Laboratory. In addition, he teaches courses in Infection and Immunity, Clinical Pathology, Parasitology and Immunology, and Immunodiagnostics.